How do B2B publications distribute content online versus in print?

With the advent of online platforms including websites, e-newsletters, ebooks and more, B2B publications have had to strategize where to best host content. Each publication has a unique approach that works best for its business strategy and its readership.

Kristin Doucet, managing editor of Professionally Speaking, the publication of the Ontario College of Teachers in Canada, said her publication’s online content is the same as what it publishes in print. “We only share content that is from the print edition,” she said. “We don’t have the resources to offer additional content via our online avenues.”

The American Bankers Association, on the other hand, has a different distribution strategy for each of its two publications. Evan Sparks, editor-in-chief, said the association’s flagship print magazine, the ABA Banking Journal, mails free to members who can also access a digital flipbook edition online. “We also post each individual article on our website to maximize engagement and facilitate social sharing,” Spark said. “In addition, we promote each piece in our daily member e-newsletter, which has driven further awareness and engagement. We also run online originals that don’t appear in print given our bimonthly publication schedule.”

The American Bankers Association also publishes a magazine for bank compliance professionals. Spark said the ABA Bank Compliance is delivered based on paid subscriptions and certification dues. “We limit the digital flipbook version only to subscribers,” he said. “We select one or two articles from each issue to post online to enhance brand awareness and promote new subscriptions, but we leave the vast majority of content subscriber-only.”

The Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada is also strategic about what it publishes in print versus online from its Pivot magazine. Much like the ABA Journal, Pivot offers a digital copy (in PDF form) of its full print issue. But, as editor Anya Levykh explained, the organization’s online news hub does not reproduce all of the print content from each issue. Only a handful of stories from each bi-monthly edition are reproduced on the news site and spread out over the two months following each print release. The online news content is made up almost entirely of unique content produced in-house, at a rate of about two to four stories daily.

“Offering unique content, digitally and in print, contributes to the strength of both content sources and prevents reader fatigue,” Levykh explained. “Sharing print content online should be done sparingly and strategically, as a way to encourage readers to pick up the print version, as well as returning to the website. They are essentially companion publications and should be treated as such.”​

Chris Crowell, managing editor of Solar Builder magazine in the United States, is also cognizant of which content is shared online versus in print. “Our website is our place to share just about any news that comes our way, to keep the site fresh daily, to make advertisers happy, etc.,” he said. “Readers can drop by, skim headlines, click the section they care about and choose their own adventures.”

However, Crowell recognizes that because the website holds all content produced, individual items can get lost in the shuffle and hold less value. That’s where print comes in. “Print is for cutting out the fluff,” he said. “We still let our print schedule guide our meatier features and sections, and we let those articles debut in print first, before slowly running one or two every week on the site and in the e-newsletter after the magazine comes out. Because so many companies are interested in sending us “content marketing” pieces, we will use them on the site, but we limit those to almost zero in the actual magazine. If we don’t treat the print magazine like the valuable, original product that it is, then advertisers won’t either.”